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What CASAs are doing to help record number of kids in foster care

  • Scott LaMar

Aired; December 14th, 2023.


There are about 15,000 children in foster care and part of the child welfare system in Pennsylvania. Nearly half of those in foster care haven’t found a job four years after leaving the system. Young women in foster care are two and a half times more likely to become pregnant by the age of 19.

One county in Central Pennsylvania has a record number of foster children in the county’s child dependency system right now. Dauphin County has more than 360 kids, ranging in age from infant to 17, in the system.

Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA has a mission to recruit, train, educate and supervise volunteers to work with these children and report back to the court to help a judge in placement.

Dauphin County CASA Executive Director Will Foster and Program Supervisor Kim St. Clair on The Spark, December 14, 2023 Photo: Nell Abom

On The Spark Thursday, Will Foster, the Executive Director of Dauphin County CASA was asked why there are so many children in foster care now,”It’s the time of year, but also you have to think globally that there are so many things going on in our society today that are causing a lot of strife for a lot of families. I mean, the working poverty level is higher than it was once upon a time or lower than it was. Families are just kind of struggling. Mental health issues seem to be a lot more prevalent. And when you have those kind of kind of things happening, you tend to get other side effects, which would be what a lot of our kids are experiencing.”

Kim St. Clair, CASA’s Program Supervisor, was also on the program,”Our job is to talk to everyone in this child’s life. Caseworker, bio mom, foster parent, teachers, coaches, whoever is in this child’s life and bring all the information together so that judges can see a full picture of what this child’s life looks like. And that helps them make the decisions. So within these reports, we pretty much have a template. We include all of those folks they are heading and underneath what we have found out from all of them, the end family concerns, family strengths and any recommendations we feel we can make because of what we know about this child and furthering their future and what what they need to have in it.”

The Dauphin County CASA has only 17 volunteers to work with the foster children and St. Clair said they could use more.

CASA says children they’ve worked with are more likely to find a safe, permanent home and to succeed in school, and are half as likely to re-enter the foster care system.


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